Bracket Prep: Midwest Region Analysis

Posted by Walker Carey on March 17th, 2015


Throughout Tuesday, we will roll out our region-by-region analysis on the following schedule: East (10:00 AM), South (11:00 AM), Midwest (1:00 PM), West (2:00 PM). Here, Walker Carey (@walkerRcarey) breaks down the Midwest Region from top to bottom. Also, be sure to follow our RTC Midwest Region handle on Twitter for continuous updates the next two weeks (@RTCMWregion).

Midwest Region

Favorite: #1 Kentucky (34-0, 18-0 SEC). The unbeaten Wildcats enter the NCAA Tournament as not only the favorites in the Midwest Region but also for the entire tournament. John Calipari’s squad has been able to reach 34-0 due to its star power combined with its ability to play tremendously well as a unit. It will be utterly shocking if Kentucky is tripped up before reaching the Final Four. The reason why the Wildcats are such a lethal team is that they possess top-flight talent at each position. Their backcourt is loaded with sophomores Aaron Harrison and Andrew Harrison and freshmen Devin Booker and Tyler Ulis. The insanely long and athletic front line is led by junior Willie Cauley-Stein, sophomores Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee, and freshmen Trey Lyles and Karl-Anthony Towns. Toss in the fact that Kentucky’s veteran players have Final Four experience from a season ago and you will understand why the Wildcats are the overwhelming favorite to advance to Indianapolis.

Will John Calipari Be Smiling This Time Next Week? (AP)

John Calipari and the Wildcats have had a lot to smile about this season. (AP)

Should They Falter: #3 Notre Dame (29-5, 14-4 ACC). The ACC Tournament champion Fighting Irish enter the NCAA Tournament fresh off playing some of their best basketball of the year. Notre Dame possesses an elite offensive attack with multiple options that makes it a very tough team to defend. That attack is led by senior star guard Jerian Grant, an All-American senior who has the ability to take over a game each night out. Grant is the alpha dog star of Mike Brey’s team, but senior Pat Connaughton and sophomores Demetrius Jackson and Steve Vasturia all strongly contribute to the Irish’s success. It will be a stunner if Kentucky loses at any point in this region, but if it does, look for Notre Dame to take home the Midwest Region trophy and advance to the Final Four.

Grossly Overseeded: #8 Cincinnati (22-10, 13-5 AAC). The Bearcats enjoyed a solid season but their résumé suggests that they should have been a double-digit seed. While Cincinnati had good victories over SMU (twice), San Diego State and NC State, it also had head-scratching losses to Nebraska, East Carolina and Tulane. The Bearcats finished the AAC season tied for third in the conference standings. Temple — the team they were tied with, and Tulsa, the team that finished one spot ahead of them — did not even earn bids to the NCAA Tournament. That’s not to suggest that Cincinnati didn’t deserve inclusion in the NCAA Tournament, but a #8 seed is very generous.

Grossly Underseeded: #7 Wichita State (28-4, 17-1 MVC). The Missouri Valley Conference does not provide many opportunities to pick up marquee victories, but Wichita State was able to pick up one on February 28 though when Gregg Marshall’s team got revenge from an early-season loss by topping Northern Iowa. The rest of the Shockers’ résumé was not very exciting, but they managed to win 28 games overall and only stumbled once in conference play prior to the MVC Tournament. Wichita State’s core is essentially the same (minus Cleanthony Early) as the one that started 34-0 last season. Gregg Marshall’s team is too talented and experienced to be a #7 seed and it would not be surprising at all to see it make a run to the second weekend.

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RTC Conference Primers: #18 – Mid-American Conference

Posted by nvr1983 on October 18th, 2011

This conference primer was prepared by the RTC staff. If you are knowledgeable about the MAC and have an interest in becoming the correspondent for this league, please e-mail us at

Reader’s Take I


Top Storylines

  • The Freshman Grow Up. After having 15 freshman start for MAC teams last year, this year promises a more balanced, less chaotic version of basketball as many of those freshmen will have matured (although we know that is not always the case). With increased experience, the MAC promises to offer a higher quality of basketball with less inconsistency across its teams. It also bodes well for the conference’s futures as many of these players are expected to be four-year players so even if the conference is not loaded this year it has the potential to be very strong in another year or two.
  • Three Team Battle at the Top. While the MAC has traditionally been a wild conference, there appears to be three teams this year — Akron, Kent State, and Western Michigan — as the class of the conference. While the Zips and Golden Flashes return quite a bit of experience and waged a hard-fought game in the conference tournament finals that was decided on a last second block, the Broncos field a young team with plenty of potential. They are probably a step below the other two teams, but this trio is most likely several levels above the rest of the conference.

Can Akron Do It Again? (AP/M. Duncan)

  • Can the MAC Get an At-Large? As mentioned earlier, the conference has traditionally been a wild one, which means that the team that wins the regular season will not necessarily win the conference tournament (Kent State the past two years). The question is whether a team from the MAC can establish a strong enough regular season resume to earn an NCAA at-large bid. The truth is that we aren’t sure, but at least the three teams already highlighted are trying to play good non-conference schedules, which should boost their strength of schedule come Selection Sunday. Western Michigan has the toughest schedule with a home game against Temple (November 17), at Purdue (November 23), at Gonzaga (November 26 listed as a “neutral site” game in Spokane), at Detroit (December 8), at Oakland (December 23), and at Duke (December 30). Akron has games at Mississippi State (November 9), home against Detroit (November 26), at West Virginia (November 28), and at home against Virginia Commonwealth (December 29). Kent State isn’t quite as impressive, but still has games at West Virginia (November 15) and at Utah State (November 22).
  • How Bad Will Toledo Be? We usually don’t like kicking a team when it is down, but the Rockets might end up having one of the worst teams in Division I this year. Last year they were 4-28 overall and 1-15 in the conference while finishing 344th in Division I in scoring and that was before they had their scholarships cut from 13 to 10 due to poor APR scores and they lost their top returning scorer Malcolm Griffin and Hayden Humes to transfer and Justin Moss retired after being diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (an enlarged heart). So basically this team is going to be really, really bad.
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Morning Five: 08.01.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on August 1st, 2011

  1. The big story of the weekend was Duke announcing that they would be looking into a potential recruiting violation by Mike Krzyzewski. According to reports, Coach K offered Alex Poythress, a 6’7″ forward in the class of 2012, a scholarship last Tuesday night which fell between his team being eliminated from an AAU Super Showcase  and when they started playing in AAU Nationals the following day. Duke has asked the NCAA for clarification on the rule and stated that it will accept whatever punishment that NCAA deems necessary.  We already stated our opinion on Twitter that this is a non-story as long as the NCAA doesn’t enforce its own rules. If Duke gets any punishment, we would expect it to be very light (and not just because they are Duke, but because the NCAA goes light on far worse infractions).
  2. Back in June, Rodney Purvis, one of the top recruits in the class of 2012, backed out of his commitment to Louisville after assistant coach Tim Fuller left to go to Missouri. At the time, Purvis stated that he was only considering three schools and Louisville wasn’t one of them. Now it appears that Purvis might be considering the Cardinals again after Duke, one of the three schools he was considering (Missouri and North Carolina State are the others), stopped recruiting him. The basic lesson here is that you shouldn’t pay too much attention to recruiting until the players actually sign. Recruiting updates are great for page views and soliciting alumni donations, but in the end we are dealing with teenagers, who as we all know can change their minds at any time.
  3. Yesterday, USA Basketball announced its 14 finalists for the Men’s World University Games team. The final cuts for the 12-man roster will be made prior to August 8th, the date that the team leaves for China. While the names aren’t exactly a list of the biggest stars in college, it appears to be surprisingly well-rounded. This doesn’t mean that they are necessarily going to take home the gold, but with a solid coaching staff (Matt Painter at the helm backed by Brad Stevens and Shaka Smart — nice that three Final Four appearances are backing up the guy with no Final Four appearances) they could do a lot better than people expect. Of course, they could also blow up and lead to about 1,000 columns about what is wrong with basketball in the US.
  4. Incoming Toledo freshman Justin Moss had his basketball career cut short last week when he was found to have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy after failing a routine physical at the end of June. Fortunately, Justin was found to have the condition on screening rather than after an event like the ones that killed Hank Gathers and Reggie Lewis. We discussed the issue in depth several months ago after a piece in a medical journal noted an increased risk of sudden cardiac death in Division 1 men’s basketball players. While there are many more causes of sudden cardiac death (various arrhythmias being a notable one) hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the most well-known. Although we feel bad that Justin’s career had to end before he ever got to step on a college basketball floor we are much happier that it was diagnosed before we had another tragedy on our hands.
  5. We can’t keep track of how many columns we have read about major AAU recruits over the past month, but if you were either overwhelmed by the amount of data being tossed at you on Twitter or you didn’t have enough time to follow all of the recruits, we have a couple of solid round-up pieces on the action for the class of 2012. Seth Davis takes a look at the top rising seniors (and two juniors) and analyzes their games along with how they will fit into their reported college choices. Over at ESPN, Eamonn Brennan and Dave Telep recap the recruiting prospects for the top uncommitted rising seniors with some thoughts on where they might end up. Honestly, if you read those two pieces you will probably know about as much about the rising senior class as anybody who didn’t spend the past month living out of a suitcase watching games that vaguely resemble organized basketball.
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